While lockdown measures have meant a quieter winter for most restaurateurs, it has been a frantic few weeks for Perthshire chef David Barnett.
The 37-year-old launched his dream business in his home village of Stanley earlier this summer.
He was able to work on the new restaurant Blasta – Gaelic for tasty – while he was furloughed as executive chef at the five-star Fonab Castle Hotel.
Hot on the heels of opening the King Street eatery, David has already expanded the business with a timely new takeaway service.
He has secured and completely refurbished a second property to serve up traditional fish suppers and pizzas to hungry households.
It is not just his business that has expanded. On top of his two new ventures, David and partner Marie Schade-Weskott have welcomed little baby Joseph, their third child.
David, who has now stood down from the Fonab Castle to concentrate on his own business, said: “Yes, it has been fairly busy round here.”
The restaurant project was in the pipeline for some time but it was only when David was furloughed that he had the free time to roll up his sleeves and get to work stripping walls, plastering, tiling and fitting furniture.
“We began doing takeaways during lockdown which were really popular at first but after a few weeks the novelty began to wear off.
“We went from 30 orders a night, to maybe around 10.”
The restaurant thrived once David secured an alcohol licence.
“When we were able to serve food and wine, that was when we were at our busiest.
“But it took us nine months to get a licence in place, and after that it was only about six weeks before we had to close down.”
Behind the scenes, David was working to secure a Chinese takeaway premises in Perth Road.
“The couple who ran it were at retirement age. I think lockdown was just the final push they needed to decide to call it a day.
“When the opportunity came up, I jumped at it.”
He said: “We got the keys in November and we’ve been busy refurbishing the place since. It looks completely different now – a lot more functional and a better environment for people to work in.”
The first two weeks of opening were “crazy busy” he said.
“It was almost overwhelming, because I think everyone was just excited about a new place opening up.
“We went through about 9 stone of fish and 160 kilos of chips in the first week.”
Throughout the business, David has been supported by Marie and children William and Sophie.
“On top of everything that’s happened, we have had another new addition to the family.
“Joseph was born just a few weeks ago. He’s doing great, but understandably Marie hasn’t been able to help out as much with the new business.”
After the launch of the restaurant, David returned briefly to the Fonab Castle to arrange for a new chef to take his place.